FEATURED POST

Iran: The death penalty is an inhumane punishment for death row prisoners, their families and society as a whole

Image
"Whether guilty or not, the outcome of the death penalty is the same. In Iran, the death penalty is by hanging, and it takes from several agonising seconds to several harrowing minutes for death to occur and for everything to be over."

Every year several hundred people are executed by the Iranian authorities.
According to reports by Iran Human Rights (IHR) and other human rights groups, death row prisoners have often no access to a defence lawyer after their arrest and are sentenced to death following unfair trials and based on confessions extracted from them under torture. 
These are issues which have been addressed in IHR’s previous reports. The current report is based on first-hand accounts of several inmates held in Iran's prisons and their families. The report seeks to illustrate other aspects of how the death penalty affects the inmate, their families and, as a consequence, society.
How does a death row inmate experience his final hours?
Speaking about the final ho…

Former French President Giscard d'Estaing voices 'no regrets' over Ranucci execution

Former French President
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
In an interview to be aired this week on French television, former French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, 84, says that he feels "no regrets" for allowing the execution of Christian Ranucci in 1976. 

Christian Ranucci, 22, was guillotined after he was convicted of kidnapping and killing 8-year-old Marie-Dolorès Rambla. Ranucci proclaimed his innocence until he was executed at dawn in Marseilles' Beaumettes prison. His last words were to his lawyers: 'Rehabilitate me!', he said.

"Ranucci was guilty, he had been sentenced to death by a jury, the punishment needed to be carried out," the former President says about the controversial Ranucci case.

"I do not regret my decision. The case files (...) and the trials proved that he was guilty," the former French President says in the interview.

A tight election race, high pro-death penalty ratings in opinion polls after similar abduction-and-murder cases occurred in France contributed to Giscard d'Estaing turning a blind eye to some of the case's inconsistencies and ultimately rejecting Ranucci's clemency plea, the film's authors suggest.

Christian Ranucci was executed on 28 July 1976 for kidnapping and killing a young girl two years earlier. He claimed his innocence throughout the trial, although he initially confessed to the crime. He later recanted, arguing that his confession had been obtained under duress after being interrogated for 17 hours.

Christian Ranucci
Ranucci's lawyers pointed out several discrepancies in the case, such as finding no evidence of the child's presence in Ranucci's car, conflicting and varying eyewitness testimonies, discarded exculpating evidence and testimonies, potential tampering with evidence by the Marseilles police, and prosecution malpractice.

These discrepancies and inconsistencies became the prime material used by journalist and writer Gilles Perrault in his book, "Le Pull-Over Rouge" (The Red Sweater). Perrault questions Ranucci's guilt, suggests that the investigation was botched and claims that Ranucci was executed despite "extremely inconclusive evidence" because the country needed swift action.

Christian Ranucci was tried in Aix-en-Provence on March 9-March 10, 1976 and sentenced to death. His appeal for a second trial was overturned by a higher court on June 16. President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing refused to commute Ranucci's death sentence.

Ironically, a local television station that had been misinformed by an erroneous Agence France-Presse dispatch mistakenly announced on the eve of the execution that Ranucci's death sentence had been commuted. Prison officers who had watched the TV news bulletin rushed to inform Ranucci that his life had been spared. Over half an hour later, a presidential press release officially denied that claim.

Christian Ranucci was the first of the last three death row inmates executed in France. Although Giscard d'Estaing had publicly stated before his election that he "felt a deep loathing for the death penalty" and wished to have it replaced with life in prison without the possibility of parole, he allowed three executions to be carried out during his tenure, Christian Ranucci in 1976, then Jérôme Carrein and Hamida Djandoubi in 1977, while he commuted four death sentences to life in prison.

These were the last executions carried out in France. Hamida Djandoubi was the last death-row inmate executed in France.

Capital punishment was abolished in France in 1981 after François Mitterrand became President of France. Mitterrand urged his then Justice Minister and renowned abolitionist Robert Badinter to draft a Bill providing for the abolishment of the death penalty and its replacement with life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Mr. Valéry Giscard d'Estaing also says in tonight's interview that he would "probably" have maintained the death penalty if he had been re-elected as President of France in 1981. "I think that I would not have made the decision [to seek the abolition of the death penalty]", he says. He also says that he remains "careful" about [abolishing the death penalty], even after so many years.

"To me, the death penalty was legitimized by its deterrence value. I am on the side of victims for one very simple reason, and that is because victims can't talk. And when the victims are children or frail, abused or tortured women, I think that it is no longer tolerable and that deterrence must be put into practice."

Sources: AFP & Death Penalty News staff, October 11, 2010

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

Belarus: I didn't know my country had the death penalty - until they executed my father

Tennessee: Zagorski Execution Explained: If, When And How He Could Be Executed

Somalia's al Shabaab executes 5 men accused of spying

If you think bringing back the death penalty would cut serious crime, you're totally wrong

Tennessee: Prison officials 'refusing' to use electric chair, death row inmate's lawyer says

Tennessee death row inmate scheduled to die Thursday asks to be executed using the electric chair

She Was a Teenage Victim of Domestic Violence and Rape. She Sought Help. Iran Executed Her.

Appeals court stays execution of Tennessee death row inmate

Iran: The death penalty is an inhumane punishment for death row prisoners, their families and society as a whole

Indonesia: Busting the myths of the death penalty